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The Ravenmaster's Secret: Escape from the Tower of London
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The Ravenmaster's Secret: Escape from the Tower of London

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,167 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Best-selling author Elvira Woodruff's thrilling novel set in 1700s London. Now in paperback!
It's 1735. Forrest Harper's life inside the Tower of London consists of three ways to pass the time: chores, chores, and more chores. His only friends are the spirited ravens he tends with his father. So when vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest can't wait to prove himself
Paperback, 225 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  2,167 ratings  ·  195 reviews

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Ok, I enjoyed this story. It had heart, it had a message, it had the ability to stir my emotions. I also like my kid lit to end the way the stories should end (for me, that usually means don't kill off any characters I like, and generally give me happily ever after--I cannot abide sad stories, especially in kid lit), and this book does give me the ending I wanted.

I do sort of have questions in my mind about this book, though. It appealed to me, but I'm an adult. I found the imaginings of the ma
Pamela Bronson
Mar 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
This may be a good read and educational, but I can't make myself read it because of one HUGE blunder: it mixes Gaelic with the totally different Lowland Scots language (basically an dialect of English) and calls them both Gaelic. That is so wrong. Here's the beginning of the Lord's Prayer in Lowland Scots (aka "Lallans") "Our Father, wha art in heaven, hallowet be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be dune in yirth as it is in heaven." - you can more or less understand it, if you speak English ...more
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2013, juvenile
Excellent story about the raven master and his family residing in the Tower. Imaginative telling and a lesson to be learned - without hitting the listener over the head - made for an engrossing read. There was also some historical blurbs at the end of the tale about the Tower, its history and different customs during that time period.

Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
For such a short children's book (I read it in a couple sittings) this book had an impressive little bibliography in the back along with some interesting historical notes from the author. It was very well written and interesting.
However, for a children's book it did have some content that could be traumatic for children. Life in London in the early 1700's was not a pretty time. Children were not sheltered and protected the way they are now. The author does not shy away from how children were tre
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
In the story there is a boy named Forrest. He lives within the towers walls. His fathers job is to take care of the ravens and Forrest has to help his father with taking care of the birds but also with other things. One of the jobs is to bring food to the prisoners.

Forrest doesn't like the way he lives. One day Forrest gets a new prisoner that he is to bring food to every day. The prisoner is a Scottish girl. One night Forrest goes outside and finds out that his friend Ned has been sold to a ch
Finnegan Forsyth
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
what was your favorite part?

It is when Maddy escapes.

what did you like about that part?

Since, I'm a Scot.

who was your favorite character?



because he never dies, and since he's just a nice guy.

would you recommend this book to your friends?



Since I want to play it.

would you read it again?

C.J. Milbrandt
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Forrest Harper is the son of a guard at the Tower of London who holds the additional role of Ravenmaster. The boy's best friends are Tuck, a raven he's raised from a fledgling, and Rat, a boy who works for the Tower's rat-catcher. Excitement surrounds news that they're to have a new prisoner, a dangerous villain of a Scot taken in battle. Only the prisoner put into his father's keeping turns out to be a girl no older than himself.

Rat-catchers and chimney sweeps. Indenture and collar days. Warde
The Ravenmaster's Secret is a quick read and was more enjoyable than anticipated. The story and characters were engaging. Although it covers heavy topics like abusive child labor, traitors, beheadings, and hangings, it is presented for young readers. I would recommend this one for tweens. The 11-year-old and I read this to complement our early modern history lesson about England and the Tower of London.
Chris Holliman
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Synopsis: The year is 1735 and the place is the Tower of London. Forrest Harper is an 11 year old boy who is the son of the prison’s Ravenmaster. His days are spent tending to the birds, playing with his rat catching friend Ned, and providing meals to some of the prisoners. Forrest longs for adventure and receives some when a group of Scottish prisoners are sent to the tower. Amongst them is a girl named Maddy who soon fills Forrest’s ear up with tales of her home in Scotland.

As the day of Madd
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: battle-books, 2012
I was looking for books for Colin that he hasn't read and the librarian recommended this one. She said it has often been a battle book and was one of her favorites. While Colin wouldn't read it (he was not interested after a couple of chapters), I decided to give it a whirl since it was one of the librarian's favorite books.

I can see why Colin put it down. For a children's book, it's a little bloody. Not in a grotesque way, but it is a softened version of life in the Tower of London in the 1700'
Amy M
I really enjoyed this one! The characters were well-rooted in their historical setting (which was clearly well-researched) and it never came across as dull or as a summary of events. The characters were true to their roles, but in a way that fit their own histories rather than being pawns on a chess board. I always appreciate the balance between character and plot and don't really like when one dominates the other.

I found myself rooting for Forrest and his friends, and the villains were appropr
Dylan Mack
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Ravenmaster's Secret is about a 11 year old boy named Forrest Harper. This story takes place in 1735 at the tower of London. Forrest is the son of the Ravenmaster Hugh Harper who has been a warder at the tower for over 25 years. Three new prisoners comes to the tower of London two were big and muscular Scottish rebels the third was a 11 year old girl. Forrest makes a deal with her to let her out. Will she escape or will she stay as a prisoner that is up to Forrest.

I would definitely recommen
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Set in the Tower of London, the ravenmaster's son is assigned care of a girl imprisoned for being a Jacobite rebel. During the course of the book he deals with bullies, friendship, and is faced with difficult choices about loyalty and fairness. Although it is a bit simplistic, I can see why teachers and others recommend the book. The character faces conflict and emerges a stronger and wiser person. If you have gone or are going to the Tower of London this book does a great job making the history ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
My son is reading this at school, so thought I would join him. It goes by quickly, and is a good historical fiction adventure. The story itself wraps neatly--maybe too neatly for my personal taste--but it addresses some interesting moral issues for the boy hero, relatable for kids figuring out who they are, and beginning to think about their own independence. Also introduces the conundrum of what is right or fair vs what is lawful, and what it might mean when they aren't necessarily the same thi ...more
Amy B
Oct 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Really 2.5 stars, but I didn't think it fair to give a solid children's book 2 stars just because I'm not a kid. :) Not a bad story, just a little slow for me. I feel like it would have been made better had the book been written from the perspective of all three children, instead of just Forrest. It would have helped me like Maddie more, and Ned's side of the story would have made the adventure a little more fast-paced. :)
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Middle Ages
Recommended to Art by: Ms. Mary Cooney
Shelves: juvenile
I enjoyed this book because it was about growing up during the middle ages and Woodruff had done the homework on what life was like.
Made me feel like I was walking right beside the main character.
Natalie Shook
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book! I couldn't put it down, so I finished it in a day. A thrilling adventure of daring and friendship. Great plot line, with strong characters and unexpected events. I definite favorite! I'm telling you to read this book!
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
in the beginning it was boring but whaen you got deeper and deeper in to the book it is a very good book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Neel Panchal
Jun 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Nice book about the middle ages in Europe
Recommend to people who like to read about history and other types of fiction

This was the first book that i acutually liked which was historic fiction
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Captivating tale about life in medieval times. A great book for all readers.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up because of the setting (a recent trip to London would have made any book set in the Tower of London during it's heyday as a prison interesting ;) ), and was pleasantly surprised. It's a quick read, definitely appropriate for children (despite the potentially gruesome setting), and though I felt the main character develops a little *too* quickly to be wholly realistic, his growth didn't feel stilted or forced within the story. His take on life and his view on the world fit p ...more
Maria Antonia
Set in the Tower of London in the 1700s... the best part of this book were the little historical tidbits about living in the Tower with the ravens. Forrest Harper is the son of the Ravenmaster. For those unfamiliar with ravens at the Tower, there's a legend that the Tower (and by extension, the Crown) will fall into enemy hands if ever the ravens were to leave.

The story itself is about Forrest and how he (and his young rat-catching ally, named Rat) befriends a Jacobite (Scottish) prisoner. I won
Becky Loader
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
And now for a quick peek into the 1735 Tower of London. Told from the viewpoint of the Ravenmaster's son, the story is about oppression, the evil Scots, a rat catcher, an even more evil chimney sweep, turbulent times, and friendship. It is common life inside the Tower for the Warders and their families. Forrest knows he is destined to be the next Ravenmaster, but he longs to know life beyond the Tower walls. He helps guard a prison who is more than a little different: she's a girl, she's a Scot, ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book with my son as a 7th grade historical literature assignment. We were supposed to read 2 chapters each day, but I found it hard to stop. Each day I wanted to read more.
We finished reading this today. I cried so much at the end that I had to have my son read the last few pages of the last chapter and the epilogue, so I guess you could say that I was definitely emotionally invested in Forrest, Ned, and Maddy's story!
My reaction to this book is a shrug of the shoulders and an “eh”. I’m not really sure who is the intended audience for this book. It is a pretty juvenile storyline. But then there are a couple fairly descriptive scenes of people being executed, so... hmm. It is moderately interesting and the historical setting is fun. However, it is too childish to be a good YA or adult novel and a bit too gruesome to be a good children’s novel. And considering it was fairly mediocre to begin with: “eh” is all I ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was a fascinating story of a young boy who has some amazing friends. Forest lives at the tower of London, his father is the Ravenmaster and a guard at the Tower of London- the Bloody Tower to be exact. What will happen when a girl about his age is imprisoned there and she is innocent? Will he be able to help her?
Julia Adams
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this years ago. I couldn't remember the title! I'e been wondering about it for a while, then low and behold, I find a copy at the library's book sale section. I remember it was interesting. I liked it pretty well, though not as much as the other book I had at the same time (The Goose Girl).
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Such a fun, quick read! I don't often read books like this for younger audiences, but this one was wonderful. Loved the characters, the conflict was great, and I cried at the end. Simple but beautiful writing too.
Stephi K.
3 1/2 stars. It was a great book to listen to with my 9-year-old son so he could get an idea of what life was back in that time. I loved that it takes place in the Tower of London and I could picture most of the locations.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read and easy to follow. The characters were likable and all had compelling stories. There were unexpected twists and turns and the ending was realistic and satisfying. I love books about this time period and this one was equally enjoyable.
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Well-known for her popular children’s stories, author Elvira Woodruff had a long route to becoming a writer. In fact, one of her first jobs after leaving college was driving an ice cream truck. She has also worked as a receptionist, a janitor, a window dresser, a gardener, a shop owner, an assistant librarian, a waitress, and a storyteller. After working for several years in the children’s room of ...more

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